Cotton pads vs Tampons the age old question

The age old question – which is better? Cotton pads or tampons? Some use only one religiously, some use both, some use neither. So which is better? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each so that you can decide for yourself.

The history behind pads

You’ve probably heard the term “on the rag”. This is due to women that put rags between their legs which was then washed to be reused. Before that women simply bled on their clothes. Imagine being a woman in that time. We can romanticise historical time periods (pun intended), but for women it was no walk in the park.

But there is definitely something to be taken away from this, and it is that reusable pads are the future. From the lowly rag to what we have today are worlds apart, and it has become a multi-billion industry, no matter what currency you look at. How did it get to that point? At around 1854 there were concerns about bacterial growth due to rags, flannel and woven fabrics not being washed properly.

Many years later Lady Anion would take inspiration from this to create a pad that uses pads with negative ions to combat bacteria. Many varieties of pads started making their appearance on the market, including a silk and elastic belt which you would attach a pad to. At around 1921 pads were being made using cellulose, which allowed women to be out in public more during their period.

By 1972 the first beltless pads made their appearance, as the new anion pads had wings to stick the pad to the underwear. From there the innovation and the market grew exponentially, and today we have many options to choose from.

The history behind tampons

Surprisingly, the first tampon made of absorbent cotton was invented by a man in 1931. Earl Haas was the father of the tampon that was most commonly used. Gertrude Tendrich produced the first commercial tampon, which used Haas’s patented design. These tampons were shaped like a bullet, had a string attached for easy removal, and was made of tightly compressed cotton which was highly absorbent.

Even though the tampon gave women the option to be more physically active, many women chose not to use tampons due to concerns about the moral implications such as virginity and its potential to be a contraceptive. This was disproven quickly, but old wives tales have a way of clinging to people. But there was a smart trick up the sleeves of tampon manufacturers. They propagated that it is concerning to bring the vagina and anus into such close proximity to each other regarding bacteria, and thus tampons were the more hygienic alternative.

Again this was disproven, but many women clung to that myth. There were two historic scares; one in 1979 and one in 1996, where massive concerns arose over the safe use of tampons. This was due to over 5000 reported cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome being reported. Although it was centred around one specific brand, the damage was done, and tampon sales took a knock.

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)?

Sudden and potentially fatal, TSS is every women’s worst nightmare. Caused by the release of toxins from the overgrowth of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, it results in a sudden drop in blood pressure that deprives the vital organs of oxygen which can then lead to death.

TSS affects not only women, but men as well. Staphylococcus aureus is more commonly known as staph infection, and can be very serious. But evidence shows that it mostly affects women who wear super-absorbent tampons. Although it mostly affects women who wear tampons, TSS has also been linked to menstrual sponges and menstruation cups.

If you suspect that you have Toxic Shock Syndrome, you should remove the menstrual product immediately and then phone your emergency services right away. Symptoms include: A high fever that suddenly spikes, low blood pressure, vomiting, watery poop, a rash on your palms and bottom of your feet, confusion, seizures, severe headaches, red eyes, mouth and throat, and muscle aches.

Why wear a cotton pad?

Not only is it one of the oldest methods of controlling your monthly period, but also the easiest method of tracking your monthly period. With a pad you can quickly determine whether there might be any problems, such as irregular and enlarged blood clots, or signs of an infection. To further strengthen the argument for cotton pads, you can purchase reusable cotton pads that are earth friendly and cost saving.

The reusable option is fast gaining popularity because it is keeping girls in school who can otherwise not afford to buy monthly sanitary products of any type. There is otherwise also a wide range of cotton pads to choose from, one of which is the Lady Anion sanitary pads. These pads are unique in the sense of their use of negative ions which fights bacteria, inflammation and eliminates odors.

Why wear a tampon?

Probably the biggest plus point for wearing a tampon is that it gives you the freedom to continue doing everything you would normally do in your daily life. You can wear what you want, you can swim, and they are comfortable and out of sight. Where a pad might slip out of place during sport or exercise which will lead to leaking, you don’t have that problem with a tampon. You also don’t have the ingrained embarrassment of noisy wrappers when you go to the bathroom to change your tampon as you would have with a pad. Many women have also complained that a full pad gives a wet feeling which is very uncomfortable. This is not a problem when it comes to a tampon. This also complained also got resolved with a new technology in lady anion sanitary pad.

Why not wear both?

At the end of the day it is a personal choice that each woman has to make for herself. Whether it be a cotton pad, a tampon, a menstrual cup or a menstrual sponge – there are so many choices for women in this modern time. The best is to try out the different options and make the choice for yourself.